The Oly Product Hierarchy

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by dmk005, May 26, 2013.

  1. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    Hello, I am new 'round these parts and was hoping to gain a little perspective on the round up of 4/3 cameras Oly makes. I have done a lot of searching since finding this group over the weekend, and I think I understand that the Oly OM-D is the top of the line although it is confusing with the E-P5 pricing. Can anyone share a resource or maybe a quick outline of the Oly line up for me to understand? I am thinking I can wait up to 30 days to make this decision.

    Background: I am a former film and digital photography enthusiast with some formal training with a few years of professional sports videographer experience.

  2. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    Actually, I do have the dp review resource as my current guide so I understand the timeline of what was released and when. I guess my biggest missing piece of info is how to understand each of the lines such as the PEN line versus the OM-D (in the 16 MP group) What product is Oly's flagship mu4/3rd?
  3. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US

    Basically, it goes like this:
    E-PM line, entry, smallest
    E-PL line, mainstreram
    E-P line, high end mainstream/closest retro throwback homage to the original PEN line/top of the PEN family.

    E-M line, top end m43 for now (relative to Olympus), first of the OM-D family Olympus says.

    The thing w/ the E-P5 being very close to the E-M5 is simply because it is newer. Olympus doesn't seem to be shy about putting newest features into their cameras (kind of like Nikon). It's almost identical but still leaves a little room for preference to the E-M5 for now. For instance, I would pick a build in EVF almost every time, and thus, will pick an E-M5 over an E-P5 almost every time.
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Olympus makes 3 lines - The Digitial Pen, the OM-D, and the E-Volt.

    The Pen currently has 3 sub-lines, the Mini, Lite, and the Pen. The OM-D and E-Volt have one line each at the moment, though more could be added later. The E-Volt line used to have many models, but now only has one line - the top-pro DSLR. That is Four-Thirds, not Micro Four-Thirds.

    The E-PM2 is the current Mini, and is the bottom of the hierarchy any way you look at it. The Lite is the higher end of the Mini-sized line, with its current model the E-PL5. The E-P5 Pen is the top of the Pen line-up.

    I hesitate to say that the OM-D (current model being the E-M5) is above the Pen in hierarchy or that the E-Volt (current model being the E-5) is above the OM-D. They are very different styles of cameras for different types of people. There is no "best" or "second best" or "third best' under the Olympus name, there is only the best of each individual body style which Olympus produces. Those current "bests" would be the E-PL5, E-P5, E-M5, and E-5 in my opinion, for each different body style. The Mini is the only one I leave out of the list because the Lite essentially offers everything the Mini does besides price. Besides that, each of those models offers something the other models do not, so I would not place any of them above the other.
  5. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Each model up offers a little more in regard to capabilites, and to some extent complexity.

    The E-PM, E-PL, and E-P are replacements for the consumer E Series cameras.

    The OM-D is the anticipated replacement for the pro and prosumer of the E series cameras.
  6. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    I must admit this is a bit confusing to me but it could be because each line has a life cycle and right now the E-P line is being refreshed putting it ahead of the OM-D line in functionality.
  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Now this could get a little confusing, but I don't believe the OM-D is meant to "replace" the pro E-series cameras. That's not to say that I would call the OM-D "prosumer". More accurate would be the "flagship" of the Pen and OM-D lineup.

    The reason I say it doesn't replace the pro E-Volt cameras is because the pro line of the E-Volt series is still in active production (PS, I say E-Volt rather than E-System as the Pen and OM-D lines are technically part of the "E-System", but that's all semantics). Plus, it was announced that the next release will be compatible with both m4/3 and 4/3 mount, but with full integration of 4/3 lenses. Now, I don't know exactly what that means but I can only assume it won't be a DSLR since it would be impossible to fit a mirrorbox into the m4/3 register distance, even using a complex mirror system like on the original Pen F (which was technically an "SLR"). Unless it's a modular system which includes a mirrorbox in the 4/3 "module" (which was something which rumor mills had guessed at years ago but never saw). Anyways, that's all speculation... what we can expect for sure is a camera of the E-5's stature and build, which is made to handle the top-pro Zuiko lenses. If they just made another OM-D with better PDAF compatibility, then they would simply keep that in the OM-D lineup and not make it an E-Volt.

    At any rate, from what has been leaked from Olympus' staff mouths, I would not call the OM-D a replacement for the top-pro DSLRs. The Pen and OM-D lines certainly do replace the consumer-grade and semi-pro DSLR lines, which is evident by the fact that those lines are no longer in active production (the E-30 was the last semi-pro, and the E-620 the last worldwide consumer-grade - I say worldwide so as to not include minor regional releases like the E-600). In some form or another though, they do tell us that the E-5 will have a successor. Whether it's a DSLR or not is irrelevant, but that fact that the model line-up itself will continue is relevant to this discussion.
  8. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    Ned (nice bicycle btw) and others kind enough to educate me so well,

    As I calculate an entry into the mu-43 space, the "easy" decision is usually to get the most I can afford (which is around $1500). I would love to understand more about why, in general, someone might choose the E-M5 when it seems clear the E-P5 is the latest and greatest tech (well, maybe just it's firmware?). Please know that I do realize the latest and greatest may not be needed or useful to most buyers but lets just assume it is a good step forward beyond the other premium line's last release (E-M5). Is there still a reason the E-M5 is a good choice for some people? Does it hold it's retail value more? Does it work with better glass?

    My last question related to the above scenario is whether there is a smart decision below the E-M5, but a camera which takes the same lenses and accessories. I ask this because I may want to make a lower body decision now but begin buying glass which will work now and with the updated OM-D.

    I hope these questions are beneficial for the group or other perspective buyers of these units and that I am not being too pedantic in my approach. Thanks.


  9. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    We are fortunate that we have so many choices of good cameras within the system. Which one is "best" will be different for each user and their preferences.

    For example - I have small hands and (after 35 years of using optical viewfinders) prefer to use an EVF, I have no real interest in video and as a result the OMD (EM5) is "best" for me.

    If I had larger hands, preferred an EVF and shot video then perhaps the Panasonic GH3 or G6 would be "best"?

    If the ability to put your camera in your pocket and prefer using a LCD then the EP5, working to s budget then'perhaps the GX1 etc. etc.

    Things like menu systems and limitations of each product can be learned and worked around. As has been said before the best camera is the one you have with you!!

    You also tend to get more consistently good pictures with cameras you feel comfortable with so try and get to handle all the different models as quite often only one will feel "right".

    In answer to your question about another body to use until you make a final choice of your main body then one option would be the Pana GX1 or if you would prefer one of the latest sensors then the EPM2/EPL5. Any of these would make a great back up body but go and handle them first.
  10. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Bingo...when I saw the E-P5, I loved everything I saw...then I realized that for the same price you can get the OM-D with an EVF...that sold me right there. (Plus, the OM-D has weather-sealing and just looks so much better haha...though I love what they did with the MySets on the E-P5!)
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The E-P5 is a huge step because it gives us everything we loved in the E-M5 but in a Pen style camera rather than an OM-D style camera. It's not a huge advancement from the E-M5, it's a huge advancement from the E-P3. It basically puts the Pen and OM-D lines both on level ground to where you can pick one camera or the other because you like it and for no other reason. Not because one is more advanced than the other, or offers better controls. Pick the OM-D if you like the built-in EVF and weather sealing, pick the E-P5 if you like the lower profile rangefinder style and clip-on EVF. It's not like back one generation ago (when the top picks were the E-M5 and E-P3) when it was easy to sway Pen lovers to the OM-D line because they wanted technology like 5-Axis IS and Sony sensor, or a better finger/thumb control system. You can have those things now in either line, and that's what makes the E-P5 so great. Of course, if you prefer the OM-D build and style anyways... then there's nothing spectacular about the E-P5 is there? It's all relative to your own preference.
  12. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    To the OP:

    At this point in time, Olympus is missing a recent (and competitive) model in their professional series, which is, theoretically, still the E-series. According to rumors, this is going to change by the end of this year.

    Bear in mind that Olympus never promoted the OM-D line as their "pro" line of cameras, instead offering it as a prosumer/"semi pro" body line. Think something similar to D7100, 7D or a77. The OM-D has features, such as weather sealing, magnesium alloy body, availability of add-on grip, etc, relative to this market placement.

    The Pen line encompasses a number of cameras from entry level, compact camera upgrade types (E-PM line) to enthusiast models (E-P line). Again, if you are familiar with DSLR brands, it's line Nikon D3xxx plus D5xxx, or Canon xxxD plus xxD. In upgrade cycles it's not uncommon for newer technology to be introduced in "lower" market segments. See for example that Canon xxD cameras at some point had better AF systems than the 5D.

    For the potential buyer, "market positioning" means little if a specific camera covers the majority of ones needs. I don't think the Pen will have a weather sealed body anytime soon, or an add-on grip and an integrated EVF is also only a slight future posibliity. . Also the OM-D will have a new model soon, with all the upgrades of the E-P5 and probably more. You have to decide which cameras' features are good enough for you, today and in the visible future.
  13. Halaking

    Halaking Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 17, 2012
    Los Angeles
    No one have mention all the pen line and OMD using the same sensor, mostly same menu system.
  14. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    Is there a primer where each camera line and possible lenses is correlated? Maybe a hard and fast rule? It seems some of these basic questions could be covered in covered somewhere in the forum history but I am having a difficult time finding it.

    D A V E

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 mobile app
  15. derick

    derick Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 13, 2011
    Any m43 lens will be compatible with all the bodies listed. You'll find different lens & body packages available - big q is whether you want a zoom or prime.
  16. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Can you elaborate/clarify what you're looking for? With regard to lens/body combinations, ALL of the Micro Four Thirds lenses (from Olympus, Panasonic, Samyang, Voightlander, Sigma, Tokina, etc.) are compatible with ALL the Micro Four Thirds bodies (fomr Olympus and Panasonic). The single exception to this is the Panasonic 3D lens, which is compatible only with certain Panasonic bodies (maybe all but the G1?) and a limited number of Olympus bodies (perhaps just the OM-D?).

    If what you're wanting is a breakdown of the features of all of the :43: bodies, you might want to check out this post.
  17. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    FWIW, the pro E-1, E-3 and E-5 have never been labeled or marketed as 'E-Volt'. In fact, I don't believe the 'E-Volt' name was applied to anything beyond their pre-2008 consumer DSLRs.
  18. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, you're right. According to the manuals in Olympus America's product support, the E-510 was the last camera they applied the name E-Volt to before they dropped that name and called their models only by their numbered designation.

    But their websites also show the Pens and OM-D cameras within the E-System cameras, so I guess there's no simple name to distinguish the Four-Thirds E-System DSLRs besides calling them Four-Thirds E-System DSLRs, lol. I was looking for a better name because people tend to call the Four-Thirds bodies "E-System cameras" without distinguishing them from the Pen and OM-D lines.
  19. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013

    Thank you for clarifying this. So the lenses across the whole micro four thirds are standard across lines and brands.

    D A V E

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 mobile app
  20. dmk005

    dmk005 Mu-43 Regular

    May 24, 2013
    My main focus is to understand how I can be smart and not waste money by buying into a limited/proprietary system. I almost made this mistake by choosing the Nikon v1.

    At this point I will either just stick with my pre-order of the E-P5 or I will buy a lower cost micro four thirds camera but invest in the glass I could also use with the eventual OM-D replacement.

    D A V E

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 mobile app
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